“One of the simplest and most realistic ways to pay forward Martin Luther King’s legacy of love, courage, and service is to serve your clubs, fraternities, sororities, organizations, and university as selflessly as possible,” says Kiah Albritton, a public relations major and student leader.
The Murfreesboro, Tennessee native finds plenty of opportunities to practice the same servant leadership she preaches.
She is on the events planning committee for All Out Knoxville (AOK), an organization that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
On campus, she helps recruit minority students as a ME4UT team member.
And she guides new student leaders as a student director for Ignite Serves and as a co-advisor for the Student Government Association’s First-Year Council.
Albritton joins hundreds of UT students who participate in the Clifton M. Jones Student Leadership Conference and MLK Day of Service, organized each January by the Center for Leadership and Service.
The day begins with interactive conference sessions on motivation and multiculturalism.
Then the students help community organizations like the Knoxville Botanical Garden, Zoo Knoxville, and Keep Knoxville Beautiful that register for volunteer assistance.
“There are these terrible stereotypes that our generation of college students is lazy, self-centered, apathetic, insatiable, etc.,” Albritton says. “But I think we are such a passionate, informed, connected group, and we have so much potential to be change makers. We are huge advocates for the causes and people we believe in.”
“It’s important, though, to make sure we’re incorporating action into our advocacy,” she adds. “We should make sure that we’re following through with the projects we’re passionate about because we can make the change. We have that power.”
Over its 15-year history, the leadership conference and day of service boasts participation from more than 5,600 students.
Their combined 11,200 hours of service are equivalent to approximately $258,000 in funding for the Knoxville community.